Interview: Newton Faulkner
Guitar-slapping songsmith Newton Faulkner graduated from the Guildford Academy of Music in 2002 and joined a Green Day tribute band. Since then, he has had two number one albums and toured the world – most recently to promote his fifth studio album ‘Human Love’. We caught up with the man himself to find out what he’s been up to.
Are you looking forward to your tour?
Definitely! We’ve just done Europe which gave us the time to find out what we sounded like and what worked. We like to rely on communication in the band, with no backing tracks. I find it strange when bands do that; it makes it all a bit robotic.
Your last UK tour was in November, but the venues are bigger this time. How do they compare?
I just love playing. No preference really. I’ve played Isle of Wight, Royal Albert Hall, Betsy Trotswood [smallest venue in London] I just love playing everywhere. Travelling around is really fun too.
How have the new songs been received at your shows so far?
Really well. I think the Human Love record was made to be played live and it transfers really well to the audience. It’s really accessible music too.
It’s nearly a decade since your debut album Hand Built By Robots. How do those songs sound to you when you listen back to them?
Good! We play quite a lot of that record, and we play a couple at the start of the set. It helps bed the audience in, as well as myself really.
I read that your brother is part of you band. How is that? No falling out?
Wicked! I threw him in the deep end a little bit. I originally asked him to help out with vocals, but he’s ended up playing seven different instruments – I don’t think he would have agreed in the first place had I not built him up to it! We pick on each when we’re on the road, but it’s all fun!
About your band, can you tell us a little more about them?
The drummer is a really old friend and he is incredible. Really incredible. The bassist is great too. The music comes quickly to us, but it’s the harmonies that take a little more time, but it makes it so rewarding when it comes off.
How was the Human Love process compared to Studio Zoo?
Studio Zoo was experimental. It’s one of my favourites, and I’m really proud of it. It’s an album I produced on my own. It was recorded in five weeks, and for most of that time I was travelling in Australia, Europe and Japan. I was dealing with some general life issues at the time, and because of how quickly we made the record, there was no time to think about it. It’s brutal and honest. Human Love was the polar opposite of that: we did things slowly and tried different things. One song was re-recorded ten times. But I don’t prefer one to the other, I like having the freedom to try different things. I’ve seen other artists in interviews say they have a regular approach to making music, but to me that would just feel like a job.
Generally how is the recording process now that you have a studio in your home?
I pretend that it doesn’t exist! I try not to go in there unless I’m working. I don’t go in there to chill out or listen to music or anything. Sometimes I get up about half 6/7 and just go into the studio – before coffee or anything. I can loop it into my kitchen so after I’ve recorded I’ll listen to it whilst I’m cleaning the kitchen.
Do you have a favourite track to play live?
‘Up Up’ and ‘Away’ is so fun. There is so much sound. It is semi-improvised – we left the second verse up in the air so that sometimes all of us will carry on, or it will just be the bass and drums. We kind of feed off the crowd. I love crowd interaction – it’s so entertaining! Once we were playing Orange Skies somewhere and I’d come off stage, gone to the loo, drank half a drink and someone asked me if I’d heard the crowd… they were still going! I went to the side of the stage and just cried – it was such a beautiful moment.
If you could choose any musician, dead or alive, to come on stage and do a duet with you, who would it be?
Jimi Hendrix would be the ultimate choice. Also I’d love to just sit down and play with Aretha Franklin singing.
For more information about Newton Faulkner’s tour, head to www.newtonfaulkner.com